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Playing favorites, within reason, is a good strategy

January 06, 2003

Bettye Nowlin

Nutrition consultant for more than 30 years; teaches community nutrition at Pepperdine University in Malibu; American Dietetic Assn. spokeswoman; registered dietitian; lives in Calabasas.

"You have to understand people's cultures when working with them. Otherwise, you won't get compliance," says Bettye Nowlin, who asks about her clients' favorite foods, so she can tell them how to have the foods in moderation and how to prepare them in healthier ways.

And the sooner the better, she says. "Too many people wait till disease strikes to start eating better. But if more people started eating healthy as children, we'd see less of the major chronic illnesses we see today."

She steers clients away from any quick weight-loss diet or gimmick, including single-food diets such as the grapefruit diet or the cabbage diet. "There's no magic weight-loss food." Of all the diets that come and go, she likes Weight Watchers best. "It's balanced, flexible, and promotes losing weight gradually. The point system is convenient, fits most lifestyles and if people can add they can do it."

Personal habits

Diet: For breakfast, she has oatmeal and fruit. She shoots for five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and fish at least once a week. She eats no red meat, but includes lots of lentils, beans, peanut butter and tuna.

Exercise: Walks every day at least 45 minutes.

Weakness: Fruit cobbler. "I was brought up in the South, so cobbler is a big comfort food for me, laced with tradition. We have cobbler in our home on birthdays and special occasions, and I do keep one in my freezer for other times. If I make it myself, I sometimes try to cut back on the fat and the sugar."

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